Computed tomography scanogram compared to long leg radiograph for determining axial knee alignment

Thomas J Holme, Johann Henckel, Kai Hartshorn, Justin P Cobb, Alister J Hart
Acta Orthopaedica 2015, 86 (4): 440-3

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Supine computed tomography scanogram (CTS) is a commonly used alternative to weight bearing long leg plain radiograph (LLR) in measuring knee alignment. No published studies have validated its use in the native knee and the post-unicompartmental replacement knee (UKR). We quantified the difference in measurements obtained from CTS and LLR for knee alignment.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Supine CT scanograms and weight bearing long leg plain anteroposterior radiographs were obtained for 40 knees (in 25 patients), 17 of which were native, and 23 of which were post-UKR. The mechanical and anatomical axes of the tibio-femoral joint were measured. Bland-Altman plots were used to calculate the 1.96 standard deviation limits of agreement between CTS and LLR. Intraclass correlation was used to assess intra-rater and inter-rater reliability (where values > 0.81 indicate very good reliability).

RESULTS: CTS and LLR were equally reliable in measurement of the mechanical and anatomical axes of the tibio-femoral joint (intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) > 0.9 for all parameters). Statistically significant and clinically relevant differences were found between CTS and LLR in measurement of the mechanical axis (limits of agreement: UKR -3.2° to 6.3°; native -3.2° to 5.6°) and the anatomical axis (limits of agreement: UKR -3.7° to 8.7°; native -2.0° to 8.8°).

INTERPRETATION: Although it is a reliable tool, CTS is not necessarily an accurate one for measurement of knee alignment when compared to LLR. We recommend that CTS should not be used as a substitute for LLR in measurement of the mechanical or anatomical axes of the knee.

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